The Ultimate Guide to Grocery Delivery: Chicago
Getting groceries delivered to your door can be a huge convenience and, for those of you with busy work schedules or family commitments, a necessary time saver.
There are a lot of options for home grocery delivery, though, and the number of companies offering the service is ever expanding.
Right now in Chicago there are many companies all vying for consumers, from specialty companies like Instacart and Peapod to major corporations entering the field, like Google and Amazon. All of these services are different and all provide unique offerings. In this article we’ll walk through those companies, discuss which grocery stores, pharmacies, and other stores they work with, and answer some frequently asked questions about grocery delivery service in Chicago.
Grocery Delivery in Chicago
Online grocery delivery services can operate in one of a few ways. Some, like Instacart and Shipt, pair you with a personal shopper who goes to a local store, finds your items, pays for them using a credit card provided by the company, and then delivers your groceries to your door. These services can guarantee that you’ll have fresh food brought to you the next day, and in a major market like Chicago, will often offer either two-hour or even one-hour guaranteed delivery from when you order.
Others operate more like a classic distribution service. Peapod, for example, is owned by the same company that owns chains of grocery stores. Instead of having a shopper go to the store to find your items, Peapod will distribute the food directly to a delivery truck, where it is then brought to your door. (They also offer pickup service outside Chicago — more on that shortly.)
Some are a hybrid of the two models. Amazon Prime Now has a partnership with Whole Foods Markets and has a workforce of shoppers who can get your food directly from the store and deliver it to your door. They also can get your grocery items directly through their traditional Amazon Prime service, which has guaranteed two-day delivery for Prime members.
When evaluating the best grocery delivery services, several factors will come into play, and depend on how you schedule your time and what is important to you. Do you prefer one store or another? What is your cost limit? Do you prefer to make regular scheduled deliveries of groceries, or do you like having the flexibility to have something at your door in an hour?
Let’s evaluate these options more in depth to answer which service or services might be right for you.
Comparing Grocery Delivery Services and Pricing
Instacart is a grocery delivery service that operates by partnering users with personal shoppers who find their items at local stores, bag them up, and deliver them to the homes of those customers. (They also have pick-up options available in some markets, though those tend to be in suburban communities.) The service offers same-day delivery (guaranteed in two hours in most major markets) and scheduled next-day delivery as well. For every order, users are charged a $3.99 flat delivery fee for all orders $35 or over, and a service fee which is 5 percent of the subtotal of the order.
Instacart also offers an Express membership for people who use the service frequently. Instacart Express members get free delivery on orders of $35 or more if they pay a $99 annual fee.
Instacart works with the following stores in Chicago: Jewel-Osco, Aldi, Whole Foods Market, Costco, Mariano’s Fresh Market, Petco, CVS, and more.
Amazon Prime Now
Amazon Prime Now is Amazon’s entry into the rapid delivery space. Partnered with Whole Foods, Amazon Prime Now offers same-day delivery (you can schedule in two-hour windows). Members of Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day delivery on most orders from Amazon, are automatically enrolled in Amazon Prime Now, so if you are a Prime member already, there’s no additional work to be done. An Amazon Prime membership costs $99 annually, and delivery fees are included in that cost. Amazon Prime Now does ask for a tip for its drivers, however.
For grocery stores that work with Amazon Prime Now, the service exclusively partners with Whole Foods, plus items guaranteed by Amazon for its Prime Members.
AmazonFresh is Amazon’s subsidiary that is entirely focused on grocery delivery, and is currently available in Chicago. It is not included with a Prime membership, however, and requires a $14.99 monthly fee. AmazonFresh doesn’t work exclusively with Whole Foods, like Prime Now does, so it can offer other, more affordable options, and guarantees same-day delivery if you order by 10 a.m.
AmazonFresh works with food distributors in the area and does not rely on any set grocery chains.
Peapod is owned by the same company that owns grocery retail outlets Giant and Stop & Shop. While neither of those chains have presences in Chicago, Peapod’s headquarters are located in the city. The company cuts out the personal shopper middleman, and instead sends grocery orders directly to a delivery truck where they are delivered to your door. Peapod can offer rush delivery, but most people who use the service schedule regular deliveries ahead of time.
Peapod’s pricing goes as follows: A delivery fee of $6.95 for $100 or more of groceries, a $7.95 delivery fee for orders between $75 and $100, and a $9.95 delivery fee for orders between $60 and $75.
Peapod doesn’t work with any local grocery stores, supplying food from distribution centers instead, but they have a pickup location on W. Northwest Highway in Palatine, Illinois where shoppers can go and grab their food if they prefer that to delivery.
Google Express is Google’s shopping service, which guarantees same-day delivery and overnight delivery in a small set of markets, which includes Chicago. Google Express offers free delivery when you meet the minimum at most stores (usually between $25 and $35 depending on the store), but can charge a $4.99 fee if you don’t hit the minimum amount. Some stores will also have a shipping fee that starts at $5.99, though that varies by market and store. Google Express users have to use Google Pay to pay for the service.
Google Express works with the following stores in Chicago: Costco, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Best Buy, Sephora, and many more.
Shipt is a company that was acquired by Target and works (almost) exclusively with the retailer. Shipt offers same-day delivery for $8.25 a month or an annual subscription of $99, similar to Instacart Express’ pricing model. Orders over $35 have no delivery fee ever, while orders under $35 usually will have a per-item markup of a dollar or two per item.
Shipt is owned by Target, so they primarily work with the chain, though in Chicago they also offer delivery from Meijer, a supercenter chain which is headquartered in Michigan and offers groceries and home goods.
Postmates is more of a restaurant delivery company, though in major markets like Chicago they’ll offer to send someone to shop for you just about anywhere. The fees can get high quickly — $9.99 per order at non-partner stores isn’t unheard of — but delivery times are usually under an hour. If you quickly need something from the grocery store, or the liquor store, or the hardware store, and don’t mind paying for it, Postmates can be a good option.
Whether you need a bag of cough drops from Walgreens or a hammer and nails from Ace Hardware, they can make it happen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there one service that’s clearly hands above the rest?
Not really, it’s more about what is important to you. If you exclusively shop at one grocery store and want to continue to get your food there, Instacart may be your best bet. If the store doesn’t matter and you just want groceries delivered on a regular schedule, Peapod could be the service for you. If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Prime Now might make sense. It’s really about your individual situation and what you need.
Does it make more sense to commit to one service or use them a la carte?
If you plan on using grocery delivery service for your every week shopping, it makes sense to commit to one service. Shipt, Instacart, Prime Now, and Peapod all offer subscription or premium packages that can save you on delivery fees, but require a commitment. If you plan on using grocery delivery service once in a while, it makes more sense to just use the services a la carte based on what you need.
Does where I live influence which service I should use?
If you’re in Chicago proper, most likely not. If you’re well outside the city, it might affect the reach and scope of what is offered to you. Most of these sites have places to enter a zip code and see what they offer in your area.
Groceries to Your Door in Chicago
Getting your groceries delivered in Chicago can be a little complicated, as there are lots of options for services that all work in different ways. But that wide variety of options allows you to find exactly the right service for you, based on what stores you like, when you want food delivered, and how often.
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